Reuters cameraman released in Ethiopia

Ethiopian police released Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu on Tuesday after detaining him without charge for 12 days.

He was arrested on December 24 at his home in the capital Addis Ababa.

Police had told his lawyer Melkamu Ogo that their lines of inquiry included accusations of disseminating false information, communicating with groups fighting the government, and disturbing the public's peace and security. However, Melkamu said he had seen no evidence.

Both the Ethiopian police and prosecutor's office did not respond to questions from Reuters on the reasons for Kumerra's arrest and subsequent release.

Reuters Editor in Chief Stephen J. Adler said the company was "delighted," adding that: "His release today affirms he has done nothing wrong."

Kumerra will be reunited with his family for Christmas, which many Ethiopian Christians will celebrate on Thursday (January 7).

They said they're preparing a special meal and in a statement thanked those who had given them support.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reforms since taking office in 2018 including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and the release of dozens of journalists.

But rights group say press freedom has been recently eroded as the government faced outbreaks of deadly violence.

Media watchdogs have reported the arrest of at least 12 other journalists in Ethiopia last year, seven of them in November when a conflict broke put in the northern Tigray region.

Eight of them are reported to have since been released, with the rest remaining in custody.

Police and government officials did not return calls and messages seeking comment.

The government has previously said the nation is facing security threats and is committed to maintaining law and order.

Video Transcript

- Ethiopian police released a Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemuchu on Tuesday after detaining him without charge for 12 days. He was arrested on December 24 at his home in the capital Addis Ababa. Police had told his lawyer Melkamu Ogo that their lines of inquiry included accusations of disseminating false information, communicating with groups fighting the government, and disturbing the public's peace and security. However, Melkamu said he'd seen no evidence.

Both the Ethiopian police and prosecutor's office did not respond to questions from Reuters on the reasons for Kumerra's arrest and subsequent release. Reuters Editor in Chief Stephen J. Adler said the company was delighted, adding that his release today affirms he has done nothing wrong.

Kumerra will be reunited with his family for Christmas, which many Ethiopian Christians will celebrate on Thursday. They said they're preparing a special meal and, in a statement, thanked those who'd given them support.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reform since taking office in 2018, including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and the release of dozens of journalists. But rights groups say press freedom has been recently eroded as the government faced outbreaks of deadly violence. Media watchdogs have reported the arrest of at least 12 other journalists in Ethiopia last year, seven of them in November when a conflict broke out in the northern Tigray region. Eight of them are reported to have been released with the rest remaining in custody.

Police and government officials did not return calls and messages seeking comment.

The government has previously said the nation is facing security threats and is committed to maintaining law and order.